Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Movie as Muse

Hollywood offers an untapped wealth of inspiration and it's no doubt the design world takes notice. I recently presented several interior designers with the question "What film(s) have influenced your designs?" and received a variety of insightful -- and witty -- answers that reflect something I have always known -- we all want to live in a movie set.

Known for her timeless classic designs, interior designer and President of Mark Hampton Inc. Alexa Hampton fittingly selected period films such as Gosford Park (2001) and Brideshead Revisited (2008).

Gosford Park

Brideshead Revisited

Charlotte Moss chose the 1958 musical Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russell (which also features some memorable costumes and witty banter with her bff Verna Charles)...

Charlotte also selected the 1956 classic Giant with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson (who portray the Texas cattle family known as the Benedicts) and loved how the rooms--much like the characters -- changed over time. The film was shot on location in the tiny town of Marfa, Texas and the massive painting which hung in the Benedict's home can now be seen in San Antonio's Menger Hotel if you are ever in the area.

Nora Marra of Nora C. Marra Inc. in Chicago was inspired by the dressing table and bed linens of Manderlay in Rebecca (1940).....

Rebecca's Bedroom sketch (note the wonderfully patterned ceiling)

And finished set...

as well as the film Philadelphia Story (1940) with its "glorious interiors and french doors that open to terraces in every room." She also chose the sets from The Thin Man series "with its endless fabulous cocktail shakers and serving carts." The photo below with the Hollywood - codes - appropriate twin beds is from After the Thin Man (1936) and the fabric is very reminiscent of an eighties Alan Campbell design.

After the Thin Man and its wonderful use of symmetry

Philadelphia Story with James Stewart and Katherine Hepburn
and the chintz filled interiors and greek key border lined fireplace

Author, interior and home furnishings designer Celerie Kemble also chose Philadelphia Story as well as HBO's recent Grey Gardens with its wonderful replication of the famed Grey Gardens of East Hampton.

Grey Gardens House is an exact copy of the original
on Lily Pond Lane

The living room in better days

Ironically Philadelphia designer and Chelsea House antiques owner Shannon Eldredge did not choose Philadelphia Story, selecting a film I have not seen -- The Grass is Greener (1958) with Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum.

Interior designer extraordinaire Jonathan Adler picked one of my favorites Pillow Talk (1959). He notes, "Doris Day plays an interior designer and her apartment couldn't be more chic. I particularly love her color scheme -- it's mostly grey and white but with pops of jewel tones. I often think about that palette when I design."

Pillow Talk and its Manhattan interiors

Rock Hudson and his gadget-laden bachelor pad

Adler also mentioned a film I had not thought of before -- the 1971 comedy A New Leaf with Elaine May and Walter Mathau. He loves the "deluxe suburban interiors" and "wants to live on Mathau's estate with its oriental rugs, chesterfield sofas and priceless antiquities mixed with Pop Art and mod lighting."

He also referenced another of my all-time favorite campy films -- X, Y and Zee (1972) with Michael Caine, Elizabeth Taylor and Susannah York (and not to be confused with another Taylor classic, The VIP's with Richard Burton). The film was shot in London, very swinging sixties and in Adler's words a "go-go Baronial Style that's uniquely English." Unfortunately, all I could find was this photo of La Liz and a glimpse of her decadent roman's so sixties.

Photo Credits: Margaret Herrick Library, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, BBC Films, HBO Films, USA Films, Warner Brothers and MGM.